A Study of Fireflood Field Projects (includes associated paper 6504)
- C. Chu (Getty Oil Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- February 1977
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 111 - 120
- 1977. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 5.4.9 Miscible Methods, 5.4.1 Waterflooding, 5.4.7 Chemical Flooding Methods (e.g., Polymer, Solvent, Nitrogen, Immiscible CO2, Surfactant, Vapex), 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 5.4.6 Thermal Methods, 5.7.2 Recovery Factors, 5.4 Enhanced Recovery, 5.8.5 Oil Sand, Oil Shale, Bitumen, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements
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More than 40 domestic and foreign firefloods were reviewed. Regression equations were developed for predicting production performance of firefloods. Two screening guides were established for selecting reservoirs for the application of the fireflood process.
Enhanced recovery methods that show most promise for commercial application include hydrocarbon miscible flood, carbon dioxide miscible flood, micellar flood, and thermal recovery methods. Since the first three processes are applicable only to low-viscosity crudes (10 cp or less), the recovery of medium- to high-viscosity crudes depends solely on thermal methods - steam stimulation, steamflood, and fireflood.
A recent domestic survey showed that, of the three thermal methods, steam stimulation has been practiced exclusively in California and steamflood has been used predominantly there. Fireflood projects, on the other hand, cover a much wider area including California, Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Illinois, Mississippi, Nebraska, and Wyoming. This wide geographical distribution of fields amenable to firefloods clearly indicates that firefloods are applicable to a broader range of reservoir and crude properties than steam stimulation and steamflood.
More than 70 firefloods have been completed or are in progress in the U.S. Firefloods also have been practiced in other countries such as Venezuela, U.S.S.R., Romania, and Japan. Varying information is available on more than 40 domestic and foreign firefloods. The purpose of this paper is to review these firefloods and thereby develop criteria for screening prospects for the application of the fireflood process.
This paper first gives a general description of fireflood and its variations and discusses variables characterizing the performance of firefloods. Screening guides for fireflood prospects are developed by two different statistical approaches - the confidence-limits approach and the regression-analysis approach. The choice between fireflood and steamflood is also discussed.
Fireflood and Its Variations
The most commonly used form of the fireflood process is dry forward combustion. The process is called dry combustion because no water is injected along with air. The combustion is forward because ignition occurs near the injection well and the burning front moves forward from the injection well to the production well. The advantage of this process is that an undesirable fraction of the crude is burned in the form of coke, leaving clean sand in the region behind the burning front. However, it has two limitations. First, the produced oil has to pass through a cold region of the reservoir. If the oil is highly viscous, liquid blocking will occur, which may terminate the process. Second, heat stored in the burned-out region is not utilized efficiently because injected air is not sufficiently effective to carry the heat forward.
Reverse combustion is a variation of the fireflood that remedies the first limitation of the conventional fireflood. Ignition occurs near the production well and the burning front moves countercurrent to the flow of the injected air. Since oil moves through a hot region toward the produced well, there is no upper limit to the viscosity of the reservoir crude. Reverse combustion is not as efficient as forward combustion because a desirable fraction of the oil is burned as the fuel, and the undesirable fraction remains in the region behind the combustion front.
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